2020 Canadian PPE Mask Industry Outlook

Canadian PPE Mask Industry Outlook

The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has created an inflection point for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) industry.

As Canadian Premiers look to ease restrictions and reopen the economy, Canada will need to ensure that front-line workers, businesses, and citizens have medical-surgical masks and non-medical grade face masks that meet Canadian standards, are readily available and accessible.

Will Canadians have access to affordable, high-quality PPE masks as Canada starts to reopen the economy? What will the mask market look like? How fast will it grow? What should Canada’s post-COVID-19 manufacturing industry look like?

To find out, the 2020 AAG Canadian PPE Mask Industry Outlook presents the total available mask market in Canada, speculates its growth, and explores trends that will impact the industry. The outlook also outlines key questions and actions to consider in the years ahead and provides suggestions on how government and industry can meet import and domestic production challenges. Finally, we offer our perspective on how companies can win in the PPE mask market while the industry is still forming.

As part of our research, we looked at supply chain constraints and the factors driving demand for medical and non-medical grade masks nation-wide and provincially. To measure the total available mask market in Canada, we used a proprietary forecasting technique that provides readers with market data projections for the year ahead.

PPE Mask Challenges in Canada

Demand for medical surgical masks and non-medical grade face masks is on the rise as world leaders and governments race to get their hands on PPE given disruptions in global supply chains.

COVID-19 is prompting many G7 countries including the U.S., Canada, and Japan to consider reshoring production of PPE, medical devices, and pharmaceutical products, which to this point production has been largely concentrated in China.

In the PPE mask market, Canada continues to struggle to source high-quality masks, or even high-specification materials. The shortage of facemasks, gloves, and other medical gear to fight the coronavirus disease illustrates that Canada is highly dependent on off-shore international manufacturing sources for both PPE goods and raw materials inputs necessary to produce PPE products.

In Canada, current levels of mask production, and imports of medical and non-medical grade masks from major export markets, like China, will not be able to meet future demand. According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, as of May 26th, 2020, the Government of Canada ordered 1.8 billion units of PPE, from masks to gloves to gowns. With approximately 333,703,750 million surgical masks ordered by the Canadian government, the backlog remains at near-record levels with only 101,325,500 million masks received.

The federal and provincial/territorial governments are learning lessons from the first phase of COVID-19, and there is a shared commitment to building up national stockpiles and delivering PPE to frontline workers. There will be missteps, growing pains, and lessons learned before Canadian frontline workers and mask consumers have access to the full range of medical and non-medical mask products.

That being said, even if some provinces increase their output to balance out supply and demand, current levels of production in Canada and imports may not be able to meet future demand for items like disposable facemasks and medical-grade surgical masks by 2021.


A sharp increase in domestic demand for medical surgical masks and non-medical masks is expected as the Canadian economy starts to gradually reopen and COVID-19 gets under control.

According to AAG projections, at a national level, Canadians will need, on average, over 750 million disposable masks [medical and non-medical] over the next 4 months and nearly 3.3 billion will be needed, over the next 12 months.

By province, the demand for masks may be stronger in some markets than others across industrial, healthcare, and consumer markets. Over the next 12 months, Ontario is expected to lead demand in the medical-grade surgical mask and non-medical face mask market (1.2B), followed by Quebec (758M), Alberta (413M), British Columbia (412M), and Manitoba (132M).

Looking ahead, sales trajectories

The uncertainty and sustained complexity of the international PPE environment worldwide is likely to boost global PPE spending over the coming years. Global PPE spending is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 8.5 percent over the 2020–2027 period to reach US$98.27 billion by 2027.

We see significant growth ahead in the Canadian PPE industry specifically medical-grade surgical masks and non-medical grade face masks. AAG estimates that Canada’s disposable mask market [medical and non-medical] has the potential to grow to approximately $3.5 billion Canadian dollars over the next 12 months. This exponential growth coupled with a limited number of current Canadian based manufacturers and an increased desire to be in control of our own manufacturing process points to a considerable opportunity for Canadian based companies.

As domestic production scales up and Canadian manufacturers get masks to market, we believe the sector will see significant growth throughout the remainder of this year and beyond, due to significantly increased demand for disposable face masks and medical-grade surgical masks as the country continues to manage the effects of the pandemic.

As noted above, believe this rate of growth is elevated by what are likely sprints to re-open the economy, easing restrictions at the Canada-US border, new measures introduced for non-medical masks in Canadian transportation systems, new usage in public and the workplace, and from initial of demands resulting from readily available personal masks in the consumer market.

As additional capacity comes online and competition among manufacturers intensifies, we believe the supply to the market will face headwinds in addition to the likelihood of some degree of supply chain disruptions, liquidity, and logistical hurdles in rolling things out.

We expect Canada will be a very important market. Increasing domestic production will enable Canadian companies to realize even more of that potential in the months and years to come.

Moreover, with the implementation of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the ratification of both the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), will also offer significant opportunities for Canadian mask manufacturers.

Building blocks for the future

As we look to contain COVID and gradually reboot the Canadian economy, companies need to seriously re-think global trade and supply chain management.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call to action under Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 is a major step in the right direction. Provinces like Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec are encouraging companies to re-tool their facilities, double their production capacity, and to scale-up new, in-demand technologies, equipment, and medical products.

However, for Canada’s manufacturing industry to thrive in the realm of COVID-19, Canadian companies and governments alike must be bold, courageous, and forward-thinking by increasing domestic production, encouraging innovation, and improving integration in supply chains.

To create conditions of success and attract more Canadian businesses to pivot into domestic production, the risks need to be reduced by governments. Therefore, it is critical that Ottawa and the provinces continue to build a supportive business environment over the long-term. Also vital would be more strategic investments in Innovation Superclusters Initiative so that Canadian companies of all sizes can access grants and subsidies to cover capital costs and other costs of manufacturing scale-up, beyond the $50M which is almost fully allocated, to drive local PPE production “made in Canada” – something at the top of the Minister of Science, Innovation, and Industry Mandate Letter.

To get there, Canadian businesses need to think long term, and not chase after quick wins. Entrepreneurs and manufacturers are all eager to get involved in the PPE “pivot,” and it’s all too easy to get carried away with the hype. To meet the increased demand and improve production yields, Canadian companies should leverage highly agile production with proactive and resilient supply chain networks. For instance, focus on the long-game, without compromising public health and safety.

The Canadian market has great potential, and Canadian firms are very well-positioned to play a pivotal role as the market grows and evolves. Successful manufacturing entities in this developing segment will need proven ability to pivot/establish/expand their existing manufacturing operations with clear evidence of their technical abilities, liquidity, and proven expertise in managing resilient supply chain networks.

AAG believes that companies with strong leadership backed by hard data, strong business fundamentals, a focused strategy, high-end raw materials, world-class technologies, high-quality products, robust sales, distribution and logistics networks, liquidity, and resilient supply chain networks—and a willingness to act courageously—will be the ones who survive and thrive in the long term.

AAG Global Healthcare Practice

Our dynamic global healthcare practice serves organizations across medical technology, pharmaceuticals, mental health and wellness, medical equipment, and the PPE value chain. We partner with healthcare systems, payers, providers, technology and solutions organizations, distributors, and healthcare investors to improve business performance by unlocking new market opportunities, improving organizational agility, supporting higher quality outcomes at lower costs, and increasing profitability.

Our experts have decades of experience in highly relevant areas of expertise – including healthcare, logistics, supply chain management, and transportation. We deeply believe that we have an obligation to use our capabilities to get that knowledge to the people who urgently need it to fight this pandemic.

Contact us to learn more about how AAG can help your organization navigate COVID-19 challenges and opportunities.

Omar Allam | Global Trade, Investment & Healthcare Practice Leader

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